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Invasive plants

Dear editor:

A unique aspect of Hot Springs is the numerous freshwater hot springs, surrounding forest and mountain areas protected under their federal designation as a national park. However, as the federal land is spread throughout urban development, local citizens may be unaware of the issues plaguing the park. Hot Springs National Park is currently facing a severe problem with invasive species that cause harmful and lasting damage to the native environment, and some of these plants are commonly found in local stores or homes. The introduction of plants grown in the public's yards is believed to be the origin of species such as nandina, paulownia and English ivy.

An assessment of the current damage in the park in places such as the Grand Promenade or the Hot Springs Mountain trails would reveal where English ivy and paulownia have decimated the populations of native pines and oak trees. This extent of damage could easily have been prevented through the proper management and knowledge of what local citizens are planting in their yards. Providing public education on such matters is an integral part of maintaining the value that Hot Springs National Park brings to the city. Additionally, encouragement for the public to engage in spreading awareness or participating as a volunteer to the park would enable the park to further their goals in preserving the historically significant areas of the city along with the surrounding wildlife.

However small a change is made, the impact of taking steps to reduce the negative effects that we have on our environment is immensely great. By taking the time to assist and reverse the damage done to the park through volunteering or bringing awareness to others through education on invasive species prevention, it greatly reduces the initial risks of creating further risks and costs to the park or the city.

Caitlin England

Hot Springs

What is a lie?

Dear editor:

Our Founding Fathers were convinced that good character is essential for the survival of democracy. During the time I was growing up and coming of age, democratic norms, despite some inevitable lapses, were in place in the midst of both controversies and crises. However, that sense of commitment to democracy seems to have evaporated overnight. In their place, there has been an astonishing level of passivity and acquiescence.

An example is the toleration of major lapses of character on the part of our president. Concern about the character of our leaders had been important in selecting them. In the past, scandals, bankruptcies, divorces, evidence of corruption and obvious instances of lying were disqualifying. Only yesterday, Gary Hart, Edward Kennedy and John Edwards were forced to withdraw from seeking the presidency due to character issues.

We have never had a president or presidential candidate who lies so prolifically as Mr. Trump. Several news outlets have been tracking the number of lies he has told. According to one news source, as of Nov. 2, 2018, Trump had made 6,420 false or misleading statements, and this behavior has continued to date. Readers can check this out on the internet for themselves. The news media have taken to routinely setting the record straight regarding Trump's habitual misstatements. It has often been said that "Trump is just being Trump." It appears we have gotten used to this. So what are the problems, in general terms?

Habitual lies confuse several processes that make a democracy run, including a sense of community, clarity and coherence. I presume that truthfully informing the electorate is right as truthfulness is needed for informed decisions. Habitual lying can cover up corruption, promotes distrust and insecurity, chaos, confusion and diminishes national unit.

So what is a lie? A lie is giving information that the liar knows is untrue with the motive of deceiving others.

Of course, there are lies that do not have a malicious intention, such as white lies or lies told to prevent suffering. Some of Trump's lies are admittedly relatively harmless, such as his assertions about the crowd size at his inauguration. However, some have been harmful and show the intent of obfuscating important issues for his personal political advantage, such as his recent disavowal of his security experts' report on current major threats to our national security. His disavowal of our free press appears to me to constitute a major onslaught on democracy. This is the sort of thing dictators do all the while presenting their own "alternative facts." In the meantime, "Fake news" is coming from Trump at the rate of eight to 10 lies per day.

The question is, does Trump believe his lies? If he doesn't then his fitness as president is in question. On the other hand, if he does believe them, his fitness is still in question, even more so.

Valerie Jones Gonzalez

Hot Springs

Editorial on 02/09/2019

Print Headline: Saturday's Letters to the Editor

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